United States ties slated for upgrade as Jim Mattis comes visiting

US Defence Secy. Jim Mattis to visit India next week

Security situation in the South Asian region including Afghanistan and terrorism, and high ticket defence deals are set to be on table as US Defense Secretary James Mattis meets Indian leadership on his official visit to India that starts Tuesday.

His visit is also being considered as a special one because the two countries have made the mind of giving a new objective to the strategic partnership. The US Defence Secretary will also express his country's appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security. The U.S. defense secretary will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and try to build momentum in bilateral ties, while establishing a working relationship with New Delhi's newly-appointed defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The first cabinet-level visit to India from President Donald Trump's administration follows his newly-announced South Asia policy, which includes an open-ended troop commitment in Afghanistan and deepening criticisms of Pakistan for providing shelter to Taliban fighters striking in Afghanistan.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan.

According to the Newspaper, This will be prior to the official meetings scheduled for September 26-27.USA designated India as a major defence partner past year and Mattis'visit is likely to take this forward and draw a blueprint for military cooperation between the two countries.A discussion is also expected on F-16 and F-18 fighter jets being manufactured by United States majors Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which are eyeing a deal under the Strategic Partnership model of the Indian government.

Mattis is also expected to discuss how to move forward on India's major defence partner designation, the sources said.

Mattis said the two countries shared vision of partnership was neither based on narrow interests nor to the exclusion of any other nation.

According to NDTV sources, "Sea Guardian is top of Secretary Mattis' agenda".

Mattis is likely to seek to persuade India to buy Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70 aircraft in a deal potentially worth $15 billion.

The US firm has offered the most upgraded version of the jet fighter to India, the world's largest weapons importer.

Pakistan, along with its all-weather ally China is deeply concerned over USA arms deal with India, besides growing Indian clout and role in Afghanistan peace process. "The US side will be looking at quick wins", such as signed agreements or defense deals, he said, while "on the Indian side, I think this is really about setting a good political tone between a new defense minister here and her American counterpart".



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